661 rifles importation: Court to rule on bails of suspects

Pump action rifles intercepted by the Nigeria Customs Service at Tin Can Island Port [Photo Credit: Nigeria Customs Service]
Pump action rifles intercepted by the Nigeria Customs Service at Tin Can Island Port [Photo Credit: Nigeria Customs Service]

The five men, charged with illegally importing 661 pump-action rifles into the country in a 40-ft container, are to remain in prison as a Federal High Court, Lagos, has fixed July 6 for ruling on their bail applications.

The accused are: Mahmud Hassan, Oscar Okafor, Donatus Achinulo, Matthew Okoye (who is said be at large), and Salihu Danjuma.

They were arraigned before Justice Ayokunle Faji on June 14 on an eight-count charge bordering on conspiracy, importation of prohibited firearms, forgery, uttering of forged documents and bribery.

They had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

But at the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, the defence team comprising of Yakubu Galadima, Godwin Okaka, Olumide Oyewole and Adamu Ibrahim, applied for bails on behalf of the accused.

They urged the court to grant the accused bail on liberal terms, adding that they will not absent in court for trial.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, K. A. Fagbemi, opposed the application for bail and urged the court to dismiss it.

Mr. Fagbemi pointed out that one of the accused was still at large and that it would be unsafe for the other accused to be released on bail as their lives might be at risk.

Justice Faji adjourned until July 6 for ruling on the application for bail.

The prosecution said the accused brought the firearms into the country from Turkey through the Apapa Port in Lagos, using a 40-ft container.

It alleged that the accused had earlier falsely claimed that the consignments were steel doors.

It said the accused allegedly forged a number of documents including a bill of lading, a Form M and a pre-arrival assessment report to facilitate the illegal importation.

According to the prosecution, in order to evade payment of customs duty, the accused allegedly forged a bill of lading issued at Istanbul on Jan. 9 and claimed that it was issued at Shanghai, China.

In the forged bill of lading, they allegedly filled “steel doors” as the content of the container instead of rifles.

They were also alleged to have offered a N400,000 bribe to an official of the Nigeria Customs Service attached to the Federal Operations Unit not to conduct a thorough search on the 40-feet container.

The prosecution also alleged that the first accused (Hassan), corruptly gave N1 million to government officials at the Apapa Port in order to prevent the search of the container by Customs officials.

The accused had between 2012 and 2016 illegally imported several double-barreled shotguns, pump-action rifles and single-barreled shotguns into the country, the prosecutor said.

The offences contravened the provisions of Sections 1(2), (c), 1(14) (a), (i) and 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Laws of the Federation 2014. (NAN)


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  • Enemona

    We’re all doing our possible best to destroy this country and ourselves, each one of us in our little corners. Our greed, rich and poor, is driving us to doom. Though close to to it, I will not give up on the country just yet, the very few reasonable, upright and selfless individuals I know give me hope.

  • Tommy Soto

    one has to wonder who is paying their lawyer’s fees? they say always follow the money trail.